Thursday, December 27, 2012

Techniqued v. defined

About a decade ago, a colleague of mine used this word to describe an odd interaction we'd just had with someone else. It has stuck with me ever since, and I've been compelled to share it a few times over the past couple of months. As with many blog posts, my motive for this one is to document the concept for future reference.

techniqued | tek'nēkt |

verb (techniqued | tek'nēkt |, techniqing | tek'nēkiNG |)

  • the process of leveraging a technique to communicate an idea, point, or concept: he was techniqued into that conclusion. she is techniqing him in an attempt to achieve the outcome she wants. 
We've all likely techniqued someone else, and we've all certainly been techniqued; neither is good. You'll notice it's nearly synonymous with "manipulated." When you're on the receiving end of this, your skin starts to crawl; it's an icky feeling. Sometimes it's not clear when it's happening (when it's done perfectly, you're none the wiser. nothing to see here.), however, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck... it's a duck.

If you're consciously techniqing others, you're leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those around you. Reconsider your approach as you'll get a lot further, and deeper, in life.

Life and work are too short and variable to apply heavy prescriptions to the act of communication anymore. Everyone has so many tools and so much knowledge at their fingertips, that techniqing is just too inefficient an approach to be useful at today's pace.

If you're, consciously, or unconsciously, techniqing on a regular basis, try having a more real-time, bi-directional interaction with those around you. Whatever technique you're trying to apply can't keep up in today's knowledge rich environment. Embrace the humanness of the engagement. Life is not an HBR article. There are nuggets of communication/management information in those management journals, but they're not bibles; don't treat them that way.

If you're being techniqued, you don't have to be. While it might not seem this way, you're actually the one in control. Take it. Illustrate the perspective and variables to the other party that are pertinent to the situation, and drive the conversation the direction you think it should go; ask questions. You don't have to "technique" the other party at all, simply have an open discussion, get what you need out on the table, and let the other party do the same.

There are obviously effective communication "styles" and "approaches," and separating them from the notion of "techniqing" isn't easy. Approaching a conversation "gently" or "carefully" can obviously be highly appropriate and effective. Not everyone's interface is the same: some people respond to direct/harsh interaction, while others need a softer touch. Surprise surprise, the trick is in the balance of it all. Applying heartless, methodical, gate/switch-driven, technique to a human interaction is energy intensive, and ultimately ineffective. Pure touchy/feely exchanges without substance aren't useful either. The point is that one size does not fit all when it comes to communication and engagement. Make sure you have a good balance of gut, heart, and mind when you're communicating with others. Don't be "that guy" who's living their life out of a management consulting manual.

There's a difference between applying a philosophical higher-level approach (e.g. socratic method) to communication, and leaning on tactical/discrete frameworks born out of business schools. One has the potential of bringing out the best in everyone, while the other does not.

I'm finally getting around to attending a Wisdom 2.0 event this coming year. I'm hoping it's a refreshing and progressive view into a lot of this stuff. If you're going too, drop me a line.

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